Sunday, June 29, 2003
Tesco have a special offer on Tetley 160 Tea Bags Tea, 2 packs (of 160 tea bags) for £4.50, saving 98p, on the usual price of £2.74 per pack. Considering the saving, does anyone fancy writing a review of Tetley tea?
Clipper Originals Fairtrade Tea - From the local Co-Op, £1.79 for a box of 80 Tea Bags. The box is sealed in a see-through plastic wrapper, but when you open the box, the square yellowy coloured tea-bags are just in there (they aren't in any foil wrapper etc). They are slightly more yellow than the picture below shows, and definitely more yellow than the usual round tea bags you normally get. On the box they are described as "A delicious, golden blend of tea from the finest Fairtrade estates. The growers on these estates will benefit directly from every pack." Which gives me a feeling that I am doing some good in the world, and not contributing to the in-justice in the world. How does the tea taste, it's very nice - a good flavour. But I'll leave the score till I've had more time to try it out. More information can be found here [clipper-teas.com]
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Saturday, June 21, 2003
|Tesco Finest* I don't know what the * (star) stands for, normally when there's a star next to something, it normally means there's some kind of get-out clause, which they normally explain in small writing, well not in this case, as there is no explanation. Well as you may have guessed, I was in Tesco, and decided to buy some tea, and what could be finer than the Finest* ?
On the box it gives instructions on "Making your perfect cup of tea:"
Use one teabag per person per cup, plas add "one for the pot" if using a teapot and ensure that the pot is warm. Boil freshly drawn cold water. Pour the water the moment it boiles. Infuse for 2-5 minutes according to your personal taste. Add milk, sugar or lemon to taste."
Well, they seem to know their stuff, and the flavour strength rating they give this tea of 2:Medium seems to fit. They also advise "Usage Occasions: Suitable for everyday use, and for special occasions" which made me chuckle. So how was the tea? Lovely, very nice indeed, except I did put a little bit too much milk in due to just opening a large 6-pint semi-skimmed milk bottle, but aside from that, it was very good indeed. I will postpone the rating of the tea, until the next cuppa when I will hopefully be able to put the correct amount of milk in.
One thing that did come to mind was storage, the box the tea came in is re-closable much like cereal is, but to maintain tea-freshness I keep the tea packet in a metal tin with a tight seal at the top, anything less and I'd be risking the tea loosing freshness.
Will be sure to stay clear of UHT in future. I find that anything less than semi-skimmed is just not cricket. Full fat can often split with the heat of your lovely cha and leave a greasy residue on the surface, and cream in your tea is just for senile old women and the Cornish isn't it?
Decided last week to try something a little bit special and made myself a cup of tea using Evian. Big mistake...due to the high mineral content of the water it leaves a very nasty looking film on the surface of my delicious beverage and spoiled what could of otherwise been something quite wonderful. After some careful experimentation I found that this is true of all bottled waters, including the water found in office "coolers". It may claim to be "Perfect bottled purity" but trust me, using mineral water will win you no friends.
I would predict that Southerers will experience something similar when using hard water. This leaves them in somewhat of a quandary. If hard water, mineral water and water from the office cooler resulting in the "floatsam syndrome" what are they to do? Other than a pipeline laid from my kitchen tap to various kettles around the capital I think it safe to assume that the majority of Southerners are right royally buggered when it comes to making a decent cup of tea. My heart goes out to you all. Give a southerner a chanceTM is arguably the greatest concept since Dr Barnado felt it was time to do the decent thing for urchins. A nobel prize is surely on the cards for you Matt.
A colleague (in London, bless him) raised an interesting point concerning biscuit etiquette recently, namely biscuit loss. When a biscuit is overdunked resulting its premature demise to Davey Jones locker at the bottom of the mug is it a faux pas to retrieve this with one's fingers and carry on drinking or should one give up on that particular cup and start again? Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
In an interesting aside, I found myself in a job interview in London recently and received quizical looks when I mentioned that a tea making rota would be crucial in ensuring my long term commitment to the firm. This was within a large investment banking firm who deal with transactions of billions of dollars every day yet it never occured to my erudite contempories how employee morale might be bolstered by providing them with decent cups of tea on a regular basis. Who in their right mind would entrust their considerable amounts of hard earned to a suit with coffee breath that could strip paint? If I was handing over my life savings to be invested on my behalf I'd want to know that it was with a man I could trust, a man of honour, a man of dignity, a man of moral fortitude. In short.....a tea drinker.
Whatever happened to the tea ladies who wandered around large offices serving tea out of giant urns and had a decent selection of biscuits available? Bring back the tea ladies with their trolleys of delight!!!
For all you Southerners, I want to get the "give a southerner a chance TM" charity campaign off the ground. I shall be in London again at the start of the week and I shall be bringing with me a large bottle of Northern water and some Yorkshire Gold bags. If you would like a cup of delicous Northern tea, made by own fair hand, you can find me in Islington mocking the patrons of the nearest Starbucks (I'll be the one in the balaclava with the pick axe handle and fine china mug brimming with hot cha).
Friday, June 20, 2003
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Saturday, June 14, 2003
What are your thoughts on de-caf tea? or different types of milk? Also, when is the best time to drink a cup of tea? Whenever you feel like it, or in the morning to wake you up? what about filtered water?
I'll try not to offend too many southerners, but the London cup of tea is basically a hard acrid drink, with little of the refreshing flavour rich nuances that you're familiar with in the North. The water is hard in London, and this results in a blacker cup of tea, and a smal film of scum on the surface of the cup if you leave it too long. In addition, southerners have been brought up in an land where environmental pollutants have masked their senses and ... after years of drinking a dark bitter liquid, they've forgotten what tea was meant to taste like (... or maybe they never knew). I know you're probably in tears of anger and sadness at this injustice that such a basic human right could be denied to so many people.. it's a testament to their character and determination that they still have the courage to continue drinking tea even in it's Ts form.
Of course there is still hope:- With your help, we can provide meaningful experiences for these people, we can restore their taste buds.
All it takes is a small donation of a teabag, some water, and your hospitality,.. together we can make a difference. Yes that's right, this year marks the launch of
This is your opportunity to invite a random needy southerner into your home, all you have to do is make 'em a cup of tea, let them dunk a gingernut and over time, that hardened exterior will melt to reveal a flavour filled top notch biscuit.
Friday, June 13, 2003
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Loved your thoughts on tea making. Very well written. Good to finally read the thoughts of someone who knows what he's on about. Would like to make a few minor suggestions if I may? Firstly, tea spoon useage is often over looked when preparing tea. As you so rightly point out, the water needs to be boiling hot to scold the tea leaves and release that heavenly flavour. Many amateurs will allow the tea spoon to stand in the cup, thus allowing heat to escape rapidly via convexion. The leaves are not sufficently scolded, and this impairs the flavour of the tea and reduces temperature, both of which are cardinal sins. Secondly, bag squeezing. Why has it taken so long for someone point out something so fundamental to the tea making process.....why has nobody released that bag squeezing will release tanin from the leaves giving your mug of cha an unpleasant aftertaste and resultant "carpet mouth"? A heartfelt thanks to you Phil, for finally saying what needs to be said. On several occassions I have written to my local MP demanding that a warning should be printed as standard on every packet of tea sold in this country. I propose the warning should inform people that "bag-squeezing" has been linked to poor sexual performance and social oestracism. Strangely, my advice has gone unheeded.
Would appreciate your views on the North/South divide, do Northerners make better cups of tea? Or have I simply met the wrong Southerners?
Finally, Yorkshire Gold Tea. Fantastic. Highly recommended, good strong taste with a homely, welcoming feel. Subtle, and yet very tasty. Has an extremely high caffeine content for all you "clubbers", perfect for an early morning tea buzz as you set out for work. If you like good, honest, strong tea with no pretensions then this is the brand for you. And goes superbly well with a garibaldi.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
FairTrade Teas reviewed on this site:
ASDA Fairtrade 80 tea bags
Percol Perfect Tea Fairtrade Tea
Dilmah Ceylon Supreme Ethical Tea
Masala Chai Fairtrade Tea
Tesco FairTrade Tea
Tea Direct Fairtrade Tea
Clipper Originals FairTrade Tea
(this list will be updated as we review more fairtrade teas)
It would be cool if we could taste test a few more of these and compare with 'normal' brands. Here are some reasons why its important.
Clipper Fairtrade Tea Bags are sold in many major supermarkets. Sri Lanka Golden, Nilgiri Blue Mountain and Earl Grey Nilgiri Tea Bags and Loose Tea are sold in wholefood shops and by mail order by Clipper (0800 169 3552).
Equal Exchange Organic Assam Tea Bags and Loose Tea, Organic Breakfast Tea Bags and Loose Tea, Organic Earl Grey Tea Bags and Loose Tea, Organic Darjeeling Tea Bags and Loose Tea, Organic Green Tea Bags and Loose Tea, Organic Lemon Green Tea Bags, Organic Masala Chai Tea Bags, Organic Mint Green Tea Bags, Organic Premium Tea Bags are sold in health-food and wholefood shops, delicatessens and by mail order from Equal Exchange; www.equalexchange.co.uk
Hampstead Tea & Coffee Company Organic Biochai Masala Leaf Tea and Tea Bags, First Flush Leaf Tea, Makaibari Darjeeling Leaf Tea, Green Leaf Tea and Tea Bags, Oolong Leaf Tea, Earl Grey Tea Bags and Leaf Tea, Ginger Green Tea Bags, Green Verveine Tea Bags and White Leaf Tea are sold in specialist shops and by mail order from Hampstead (Tel: 020 8731 9833).
Morrisons Fair Trade Organic Tea Bags are sold in Morrisons.
Suma Organic Assam Tea Bags, Organic Earl Grey Tea Bags, Organic Darjeeling Tea Bags and Organic Breakfast Blend Tea Bags are available in health and wholefood shops.
Teadirect Tea Bags, Organic Earl Grey Tea Bags and Organic Green Tea Bags with Lemongrass or Cinnamon are sold in major supermarkets, independent retailers, Oxfam shops, Traidcraft mail order, One World shops and independent health and wholefood stores. Teadirect Tea Bags are also available in Costa Coffee shops.
Themis Organic Memory, Vigour, Slimming and Vitality Fairtrade Tea Bags are sold in health- food shops.
Traidcraft Indian Ocean Tea Bags, East African Gold Tea Bags, One Cup English Breakfast Tea Bags, One Cup East Africa Tea Bags, One Cup Earl Grey Tea Bags, Tanzanian Loose Tea are available from wholefood and One World shops, and by mail order and online shopping from Traidcraft at www.traidcraftshop.co.uk. Catering packs of One and Two Cup Teabags are also available from Traidcraft.
Well, I'm just tucking into a cracking cuppa - yes - and clearly this is controvertial - but including a level teaspoon of sugar and a carefully measured helping of milk. Brewed with exotic PG Pyramids - a big favourite of mine, it's truly smashing. Anyway, as a veteran tea drinker, I feel qualified to offer tea preparation advice - perhaps those wishing to polish up their brew making skills to avoid social embarassment or new converts will find them useful.
If you're making a cuppa without the assistance of a tea-pot, then pop your tea-bag and any sugar into an EMPTY cup. Do not under any circumstances include the milk at this stage - this will compromise the sugar's distribution throughout the brew due to lower than normal temperates, resulting in the sickly sugar sludge at the bottom of the cup and possibly even people increasing their sugar intake to cover for the initial overly bitter taste. Too much sugar is bad for your teeth and turns you into a fat moma - so make sure you distribute it evenly through the brew. The tea leaves also prefer boiling hot water adding BEFORE the milk, and this will normally remove the need for "squeezing" the tea bag - which is a cardinal sin under normal circumstances. Once your sugar, tea-bag and boiling hot water (straight from the kettle - not left to stand and cool first) are safely in the mug, then you can add milk. At this stage it's fine to leave the tea bag in, as this will allow you to increase the strength of the brew should you accidently add too much milk - you should be able to achieve this by gently swishing the tea bag about with a tea-spoon, but if push comes to shove you can squeeze the tea bag (note that this should be regarded as an option ONLY in emergencies where an overly milky tea may otherwise be produced). Talking of overly milky teas - while color of tea is for the most part down to individual preference, bear in mind that a properly prepared brew should generally be brown and not off white. Serious tea drinkers will not be impressed if you present them with milky water and may (quite justly) give you a good kicking. You should also bear in mind that your ability to judge the milkiness of a tea (a key tea making skill) will be affected by the colour of the mug you are preparing it in - typically tea looks milkier in a black mug than the same tea would in a white mug. Finally, having removed the tea bag, give the tea a quick stir just to be sure.
Another tip, when preparing large numbers of brews - why not order them across the kitchen surface in order of sugar consumption - no sugar to the left and four to the right. This will help you remember who's brew is whos and prevent an embarassing mix up. In this case it's probably best to add hot water from right to left - as the teas with the most sugar in are in need of the hottest water (as you move from mug to mug the water in your kettle gradually cools). If you are unlucky enough to be entertaining coffee drinkers as well, while out of politeness you may perhaps make them a cup of coffee filth anyway, be ABSOLUTELY SURE that you use different spoons for stirring tea with - the slightest contamination of tea with coffee will spoil the tea drinkers enjoyment of their brew entirely and they will probably never speak to you again or try to poison your children in the near future. If allowing your guests to add their own sugar to their drinks, then you may wish to give coffee drinkers their own sugar bowl or alternatively force them to use artificial sweeteners, as nothing pleases them more than to pollute sugar with their poisonous coffee cak. Being the scum of the earth, coffee drinkers love the idea that they can sneakily pollute clean living tea drinkers tea via this method and usually get a kick out of knowing that tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers alike will be putting coffee infested sugar on their corn-flakes the following morning.
Also don't think you'll get away with using tea bags that are out of date - the difference is easily discernable and can be quite unpleasant. One final tip - pint glasses (contrary to popular belief) can handle a good hot cup of tea, so if you've yet to get some Dad sized mugs, why not put your pint glasses to work instead?
This morning I had a cup of my favorite tea: Bigelow French Vanilla. Filled a pretty large mug with water, stuck it in a dangerous looking microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and then sat back to enjoy my beautifyl tea-experience. No sugar, milk, or other evil additives, you don't need it with this stuff. It's great with biscotti though, and it really makes coffee drinkers angry to see you wasting coffee cookies on tea. It's all about aggrivating the coffee kids.
Monday, June 09, 2003
My current favourite is Tesco premium: Left to brew longer for a strong cup, and just the right amount of milk. Of course, any addition of suger would be sacrilidge, merely tea, boiling water and ice cold milk. No less, no more.